Pink is the new Black / My Rollercoaster Ride of Cancer
Today I reflect on the question of where my awareness of the severity of Melanoma comes from. I know it stems directly from my dear cousin Jimmy, who passed away after a 5-year battle with melanoma at the age of 49. When Jimmy first noticed a spot on his leg, he ignored it. His wife had bugged him for quite awhile to get it checked and when he finally did, found out that it was melanoma. Like many of us do, Jimmy had a lot on his plate. So, once he was diagnosed, he somehow figured that if he didn’t talk about it, it would just go away.
So why am I telling you this? Because it turns out, that Jimmy may have saved my life! Since his death I have been diligent about wearing sunscreen and going for my yearly dermatology checkups. But this year I ALMOST postponed my regular dermatology check because I was busy. Busy getting ready for a two-week vacation. REALLY? I had gotten a few strong signs from Jimmy and reluctantly went for my checkup just three days before I left for my overseas trip to Barcelona. Dr. West scanned a spot on my arm that was only 0.5x 0.4x0.1 cm in size. She removed It in in her office, and promptly sent it out for a biopsy. I never thought much about it. Half way into our cruise I received a call from Dr. West to please call her office. I had no cell service so left her a message on my portal to please leave me a voice message on my phone.
“You have Melanoma! “That is all I remember of the voice message. Boy did my cancer anxiety hit an all-time high! I was on a cruise and could do nothing until I returned home, except worry. A week after vacation I had the area removed. The cancer went all the way to the edge of the tissue they took, so they had to take more to get clear margins.
SUCCESS! All the cancer is removed! I may be left with an ugly scar, but I am grateful to Jimmy for reminding me not to cancel my yearly checkups. Jimmy passed away November 30, 2009. And I am reminded today especially, never to think you are too busy to take care of yourself.
Have you gotten your skin checked today? Don’t wait, make that appointment now. Jimmy is reminding you through me. I think of it as part of his legacy, to not do what he did and forego basic preventative self-care. Life is simply too precious!
Loving Life & Blessed,